Bracket Bits: Miami, Creighton and Cal grab notable wins
We could talk about Kentucky, Texas, and Duke … all of which posted quality wins this past week. But the Wildcats, Longhorns, and Blue Devils basically delivered as expected. So let’s move on after a quick note about Texas – in winning the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden – beating Iowa and California – the Longhorns proved they could win without point guard Isaiah Taylor, who injured his wrist late in the victory over the Hawkeyes. That bodes well over the next four-to-six weeks.
A bit more under the radar, Miami, Creighton, and aforementioned Cal posted resume-building wins. While we have a long way to go, these wins could make a difference – particularly for potential bubble teams …
- Miami – the Hurricanes beat Florida in Gainesville. A quality road win resonates even more.
- Creighton – not much was expected after the departure of Doug McDermott, among others, but the Bluejays made some noise in beating Oklahoma.
- California – although the Bears lost to Texas in the 2K title game, they looked the part of an NCAA team, beating Syracuse in the semifinals. We’ll see how it goes in the coming weeks.
Here are a couple of other victories of note:
- Georgia Tech – the Yellow Jackets beat rival Georgia.
- Northern Iowa – the Panthers’ road tally at Stephen F. Austin is better than you think.
- Temple – the Owls upended C-USA favorite Louisiana Tech.
On the flip side, it wasn’t a good opening week for Southern Methodist (SMU), Harvard, Florida State or Clemson. SMU missed early chances at Gonzaga and Indiana. The Mustangs were without Markus Kennedy, but the game in Bloomington was still one SMU had a chance to get. A potential sleeper in the ACC, Florida State lost to Northeastern. Harvard fell to Holy Cross. And Clemson dropped back-to-back games against Winthrop and Gardner-Webb. Ouch.
We could add Iowa to this list as well. The Hawkeyes fell to Texas and Syracuse in New York. Both are quality losses, but after last year’s late-season swoon, the results may add a little pressure to the team’s remaining non-league power meetings with North Carolina and Iowa State.
Mid-American favorite Toledo and Sun Belt favorite Georgia State each missed big-win opportunities. The Rockets lost at VCU and Oregon. The Ducks, in particular, were a realistic target. Georgia State dropped decisions to Iowa State and Colorado State. Figuring the Rams could also be a bubble team, the loss to CSU may prove bigger at some point.
Toledo still has a trip to Duke on its non-conference slate. Georgia State’s best remaining non-conference opponent is Green Bay. Both could enter league play without a notable takeaway.
Enjoy a fun weekend of hoops.